Xerox patent suit against Palm back in play

ITworld.com –

The ongoing patent-infringement lawsuit between Xerox Corp. and Palm Inc. took a new turn Monday when an appeals court reversed a federal judge's dismissal of the case.

The dispute began in 1997, when Xerox sued U.S. Robotics -- later acquired by 3Com Corp. and spun off into Palm -- for infringement of Xerox's patented Unistrokes handwriting recognition technology. Last year Michael Telesca, a judge for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York, dismissed the suit on the basis that Palm's Graffiti handwriting recognition software, a part of the Palm OS that runs on handheld devices, does not use the same recognition patterns as Xerox's technology.

On Monday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed that judge's decision, finding that the judge misunderstood how and where symbols must be written in order to be recognized by the handheld device, according to Xerox. The case has been remanded to the U.S. District court in Rochester. Telesca continues to preside over that court.

Unistrokes, a technology that allows users to put information into a computer by printing in a special shorthand, was developed in the early 1990s at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), a well-known institution in the technology industry. Xerox obtained the patent for Unistrokes in January of 1997, but currently has no plans to commercialize the technology, according to a company spokesman.

"Xerox will undertake whatever is needed to protect this groundbreaking invention and valuable patent from unauthorized use and infringement," said Christina Clayton, Xerox's general counsel, in a written statement.

Palm officials restated their position that Graffiti does not infringe on Xerox's patent, and said the company will vigorously defend itself in this next round of the case.

Xerox, based in Stamford, Conn., is at http://www.xerox.com/. Palm Inc., based in Santa Clara, Calif., is at http://www.palm.com/.

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